What If? Productions ‘Amadeus’ is a Theatrical Triumph

By Mark A. Leon

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was given the rarest of gifts; a brilliance so rare it was incomprehensible in his time.? He felt the music of the world and served as a messenger with his composition.? Hints of his brilliance are captured in Kyle Barnette’s latest What If? Productions of Amadeus playing at the Threshold Repertory Theatre.

This carefully scripted masterpiece is only matched by its hauntingly beautiful acting.? Brannen Daugherty as Antonio Salieri is triumphant as a man who must fight his inner demons and jealousy for the divine prodigy Mozart while maintaining poise and a level of rationality.? What may be one of the most compelling scenes in Charleston theater this season, Daugherty closes the first act with an monologue and impassioned conversation with the Almighty Lord that builds on his madness and jealousy.? The power and rawness of this scene is complimented with flawlessly choreographed music and lighting that leaves shivers throughout the audience.

College of Charleston Senior Theater Major Nathan D. Cooper has a promising future ahead of him.? His depiction of Mozart is spirited, channeling the madness of genius throughout the performance.? His nervous laugh, unrelenting grip on childhood innocence and fierce determination for musical perfection is exquisite.? He delivers a performance as inspiring as the compositions of Mozart that have lasted the test of time.

As Mozart’s physical and mental decline is catapulted like a mudslide into a dark cavern, you can see him falling further away from reality to a point where his mind and body are behind his own control.? Yet, in these moments where his dreams are leading him to the angel of death, his reaches the pinnacle of success.? He greatest requiem occurs when sanity and insanity become one.

As the two worlds of Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart merge, we are brought into a tangled web of deceit, jealously and spiritual uncertainty.? This is an empowered evening of drama that is one of the finest shows of the season in Charleston.

James Ketelaar and Bess Lawson, both coming off their triumphant performances in Evil Dead continue to shine as Emperor Joseph and Katherina Cavalieri.

Kimi Hugli is wonderful as Constanze Weber, Mozart’s devoted wife who must compromise her principles and at times her very being to stand firmly by her husband, who spends his life battling demons he cannot control.? Her most riveting scenes occur in Act II when she must endure the pain of watching her most loved slip away from her and having no control to stop the inevitable.

A special consideration must be made to Taylor-Ann Spencer for bringing the period of the 1700 and 1800’s Austria to life with the beautiful costume design.

Sometime you find hope in tragedy and theater is a mechanism that can derive extreme emotion.? What If? Productions adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus is a triumph and must see.

Amadeus Ticket Information


Evil Dead: The Musical – A Raunchy Comical Horrorfest

By Mark A. Leon / Edited by Minta Pavliscsak

“Evil Dead: The Musical” is a hauntingly beautiful evil comedy packed with silly madness that will fulfill your need for a Halloween scare.

Set in a misty dark foggy night deep in the heart of the forest, five broke and horny teenagers find their way to an abandoned cabin in the woods where the only thing standing in their way from a perfect spring break is an explosion of demons comedically unleashed via stumbling across The Book of Dead and recordings of passages from its pages.? What follows next is blood, mayhem and sheer lunacy.

Enter Ash, his sister Cheryl, his S-Mart love Linda, fowl mouthed best friend Scott and Scott’s three-day old fast fling Shelly.? Now sit back and enjoy one of the most exhilarating evenings this holiday season.

Based on the book and lyrics of George Reinblatt, the carefully crafted stage direction of Kyle Barnette and the wickedly enchanting cast, What if? Productions and Threshold Repertory take you on a journey combining legendary elements of Grease, Rocky Horror Picture Show and the campy B-Movie essence of Tromaville, the hometown of Toxic Avenger.

The opening number, “Cabin in the Woods” is reminiscent of any great road trip and is soon followed by romantic duet of “Housewares Employee” by Ash and Linda that is so utterly romantic, it will make you think twice about the “no love in the workplace” rule by the time it is over.

After two hours of show stopping numbers, wise cracks and horny banter, you will be treated to a blood soaked Thrilleresque conclusion filled with dancing, ancient chants, a Boomstick and a hair-raising chainsaw hand.

The devil truly has a sense of humor and he blessed us with Evil Dead:? The Musical

As the story unfolds, demons manifest themselves in the bodies of our cast, who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.? The first possessed is Ash’s sister Cheryl, played remarkably by Kelly McDavid.? As the demon locks itself deep in the underbelly, taking over Cheryl’s body, she transforms from a paranoid book worm, to a witty, pun induced laugh track leading the audience into an explosion of excitement with every well-timed line.

A show stopping moment occurs with the introduction of Jake, played by James Ketelaar who transforms his character into a rugged redneck bumpkin whose confidence soon turns into fear. He makes his character lovable with his breakout performance of “Good Old Reliable Jake”, which puts the crowd in a frenzy of extended applause.

Cameron Christensen, as Ash is played with confidence, charm and visual expressiveness.? His complete and uninhibited adaptation into this world of demonic musical silliness provided a prominent presence that inspired.? His energy fueled the remaining members of the troop as they took us down a path to the unknown forces of the dead.

Throw in a talking moose head, dancing beaver, pain in the ass hand, talking head, flying intestines, an audience splash zone and you have a night of entertainment, you will surely not forget.

Late in Act I we are introduced to Ed and Annie.? Ed is only a bit part demon; the extra that is soon forgotten, but don’t feel bad, he will get his moment to shine, sort of.? Annie (who may resemble Shelly), played by Bess Lawson, is the daughter of the professor who initially discovers the Book of the Dead.? Her appetite to steal the spotlight in every scene, makes her an unlikely hero in this story.? But then again, when you are dealing with demonic forces, anything can happen.

Throughout the performance, the actors play fun at the formula of horror movies and without even realizing, make us all a part of the performance.? It is a tactic to engage while still poking fun at the genre to enhance the comedic element.

“Evil Dead” is a raunchy, witty, playful and outrageous evening of sheer fun and a must see during this holiday season, or any season.? Spoiler:? Once you see the musical number “What the Fuck Was That?” choreographed to the tango between Scott and Ash, I think you will understand just what we mean.

A truly great production is a team effort from set design to props; casting to rehearsal; script to music; timing to confidence.? “Evil Dead” is an uninhibited and enthralling theatrical symbiosis.? This production brings all these elements together in a complete experience.

Come to Threshold to experience a remarkable show that will turn your world inside out.? Play along with the banter and get absorbed into a world where demons can be fun too, even if they want to steal your soul and kill you.

Ticket Information – Evil Dead: The Musical